ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 10

As you can imagine, space presents a variety of challenges that lubricants and greases do not typically face in a
terrestrial environment. Space lubricants must be able
to perform in a vacuum, in microgravity, under extreme
temperatures and even in gaseous or dusty conditions.
Seventeen years ago, the first astronauts were sent to live
aboard the International Space Station. Their mission, and
the mission of those who followed, is to learn about living
and working in space. Much of the work they do involves
machinery, robots and very delicate instruments. Because
this equipment often requires lubrication to keep it running,
the advancement of space tribology is part of that mission.
Dr. Philip Ferguson, NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) industrial research
chair in Satellite Engineering, University of Manitoba, said
that there is a lot of attention being paid these days to the
possibility of space mining. Extracting ore from asteroids,
the moon or planets will involve a lot of moving mechanisms, and lubricants will play an important part. Let's take
the moon as an example.
It takes 28.5 days for the moon to spin on its axis. That
means equipment could be sitting in temperatures of minus
298 degrees Fahrenheit for 13 Earth days before seeing the sun.
In sunlight, the temperature can jump up to 224 degrees Fahrenheit. Engineers design electronics and mechanisms for those
extreme temperatures, but very few liquids or viscous greases
can withstand that kind of temperature difference.
On top of that, dust is a big problem. Lunar dust is incredibly fine and quite sharp because there is no weathering taking
place on the moon. That dust also tends to get into everything.
Dust and temperature extremes are relatively obvious issues,
but Ferguson also points out the less obvious problem of
oxidization, or the lack thereof.
Many sliding surfaces rely on a layer of oxide to adhere to
lubricants. Space being devoid of oxygen means that once that
layer of oxide wears away, it can't reform. Either the surface
must be made to eliminate wear, or a mechanism which can
replace the surface when it does wear out must be provided.
"Ionic fluids are a growing area of research in part for that
very reason," said Ferguson.
Students taking part in an International Space School
Educational Trust (ISSET) Mission Discovery program at
Cranfield University were interested in the impact of micro-

10

NOVEMBER 2017

| COMPOUNDINGS | ILMA.ORG

Photo courtesy of NASA

INDUSTRY RUNDOWN

Lubricants Play Vital
Role in Space

gravity on ionic fluid properties. Earlier this year, working
with ISSET in collaboration with King's College London,
they sent an experiment to the space station.
The experiment consisted of two mechanical wheels that
would each grind against a rigid piece of sandpaper. Both
wheels would start out dry, then one of the wheels would be
injected with an ionic fluid mixture (1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride lubricant), and the other would serve as a
control.
Dr. Julie Keeble, lecturer in pharmacology at Kings
College London and chief scientist at ISSET, said that the
experiment showed the ionic fluid successfully reduced
friction without changing the integrity and structure of the
sandpaper. Another positive result was the fact that there
was no leakage of the fluid.
For those manufacturers looking to aid in the mission of
learning to live and work in space, it's a worthy endeavor,
but not an easy one. Manufacturers must undergo a careful
review of data sheets, gathering of testimonials, test reporting and traceability. And all this must be done for every
single batch. Ferguson hopes that process improves, but for
now, his advice is, "fasten your seat belt and get ready for a
lengthy verification process."


http://www.ILMA.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ILMA Compoundings November 2017

LETTER FROM THE CEO
INSIDE ILMA
Company Callout
WHAT’S COMING UP
In the Know
INDUSTRY RUNDOWN
International Insight
Market Report
SHIFTING GEARS – INNOVATING THE FUTURE
NORTH AMERICAN SPECIFICATION UPDATE
DIGITAL MARKETING IN MANUFACTURING
BUSINESS HUB
COUNSEL COMPOUND
WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE
IN NETWORK
Member Connections
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - Cover1
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - Cover2
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 1
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 2
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - LETTER FROM THE CEO
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - INSIDE ILMA
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 5
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - Company Callout
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 7
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - WHAT’S COMING UP
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 9
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - INDUSTRY RUNDOWN
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 11
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - International Insight
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 13
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - Market Report
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 15
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - SHIFTING GEARS – INNOVATING THE FUTURE
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 17
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 18
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 19
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 20
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 21
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 22
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 23
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - NORTH AMERICAN SPECIFICATION UPDATE
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 25
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 26
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 27
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - DIGITAL MARKETING IN MANUFACTURING
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 29
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 30
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 31
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - BUSINESS HUB
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 33
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - COUNSEL COMPOUND
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - Member Connections
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 37
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 38
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 39
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - 40
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - Cover3
ILMA Compoundings November 2017 - Cover4
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